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What To Wear In A Boat Cruise


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Ailey Loyd



Going on a boat cruise is an exciting and refreshing experience, allowing you to explore picturesque destinations while enjoying the serene beauty of the open water. Whether you’re embarking on a Caribbean voyage or sailing along the Mediterranean coast, choosing the right clothing for a boat cruise is essential to ensure comfort and style throughout your journey.


When it comes to boat cruise attire, there are a few factors to consider. First and foremost, you’ll want to dress appropriately for the activities you plan to partake in during the cruise. Whether it’s lounging by the pool, participating in water sports, or exploring onshore excursions, your clothing should be versatile and suited to the occasion.


Another important consideration is the dress code onboard the boat. Some cruises may have specific dress code guidelines for certain events or dining options, so it’s essential to pack accordingly to avoid any last-minute wardrobe dilemmas.


In this article, we’ll delve into the details of what to wear on a boat cruise, providing you with valuable insights and tips to help you make the right clothing choices for a memorable and enjoyable journey. From swimwear options to cover-ups, footwear choices, accessories, and even packing techniques, we’ve got you covered.


Choosing the Right Clothing

When it comes to choosing the right clothing for a boat cruise, it’s important to strike a balance between comfort and style. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics: Since you’ll be spending a significant amount of time outdoors, it’s important to choose clothing made from lightweight and breathable fabrics such as cotton, linen, or blends that keep you cool and comfortable.
  • Pack versatile pieces: Select clothing items that can be easily mixed and matched to create different outfits. This allows you to maximize your wardrobe options while minimizing the amount of clothing you need to pack.
  • Consider layering: On a boat cruise, the weather can change unexpectedly, so it’s wise to pack a few layers. Lightweight cardigans, sweaters, or jackets will come in handy when the temperature drops or if you encounter a cool breeze.
  • Stick to a color palette: Opt for a coordinated color palette for your clothing to make mixing and matching easier. Neutrals like white, navy, or beige are great choices as they can be paired with various colors and patterns.
  • Mix in some patterns and prints: Add some charm to your cruise wardrobe by incorporating patterns and prints. Floral, nautical, or tropical motifs are popular choices that fit well with the cruise ambiance.
  • Choose comfortable and well-fitting clothing: Since you’ll be spending time moving around the boat and engaging in various activities, it’s important to choose clothing that allows for ease of movement and fits well.
  • Don’t forget about sun protection: Protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays is crucial when on a boat cruise. Make sure to pack a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to shield yourself from the sun.

By considering these factors and making thoughtful choices when selecting your cruise clothing, you’ll ensure that you feel comfortable, stylish, and prepared for any occasion that arises during your voyage.


Swimwear Options

When it comes to swimwear options for a boat cruise, it’s important to choose styles that make you feel confident and comfortable. Here are some popular swimwear options to consider:

  • Bikinis: Bikinis are a classic choice for many cruise-goers. They come in various styles such as triangle tops, bandeaus, and halter necks, giving you the freedom to choose the one that best suits your body type and personal preference.
  • One-piece swimsuits: One-piece swimsuits are a versatile option that provide both coverage and style. They come in a range of designs, from simple and elegant to more intricate and fashionable, so you can choose the one that reflects your personality.
  • Tankinis: For those who prefer more coverage but still want the convenience of a two-piece, tankinis are a great choice. With a tank top-style top and bikini bottoms, they offer comfort while allowing for easy bathroom breaks.
  • Swim dresses: Swim dresses are a stylish alternative to traditional swimsuits. With a flared skirt-like bottom, they provide a more feminine and elegant look while still offering the functionality of swimwear.
  • Boardshorts: Boardshorts are a popular swimwear option for men. They are comfortable, versatile, and provide more coverage than traditional swim trunks. Boardshorts often come in vibrant colors and patterns, allowing for a fashionable beach look.
  • Rashguards: Rashguards are a practical choice for both men and women, especially if you plan on engaging in water sports or spending long hours under the sun. They provide protection against sunburn and can be paired with swim bottoms for a stylish ensemble.

Remember, no matter which swimwear option you choose, it’s important to select high-quality pieces that fit well and make you feel confident. Don’t forget to consider your personal style, body shape, and the activities you plan to partake in during the cruise when selecting your swimwear.


Cover-Up Options

While swimwear is essential for a boat cruise, it’s also important to have stylish and versatile cover-up options. Cover-ups not only provide an extra layer of protection but also allow you to transition effortlessly from the pool or beach to other activities on board or on land. Here are some cover-up options to consider:

  • Sarongs or pareos: Sarongs or pareos are lightweight and versatile cover-ups that can be wrapped or tied around the waist, chest, or worn as a dress. They come in a variety of colors and prints, allowing for endless styling possibilities.
  • Kimonos or caftans: Kimonos and caftans are trendy and elegant cover-up options. They are loose-fitting, flowy garments that provide coverage while adding a touch of glamour to your poolside look.
  • Tunic tops: Tunic tops are versatile cover-ups that can be effortlessly paired with swim bottoms or worn over a bikini or one-piece swimsuit. They come in various lengths, styles, and materials, making it easy to find one that suits your personal style.
  • Maxi dresses: Maxi dresses serve dual purposes as both cover-ups and stylish outfits for evening events or excursions on land. They provide full coverage while offering comfort and elegance.
  • Shirt dresses: Shirt dresses are another versatile option that can be worn as cover-ups or as standalone outfits. They are comfortable, chic, and can easily be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
  • Flowy pants or culottes: Flowy pants or culottes are a stylish choice for cover-ups, especially if you prefer more coverage for your legs. They pair well with a simple tank top or bikini top, creating a trendy and comfortable ensemble.

When choosing a cover-up, consider the fabric, length, and style that best suits your needs and preferences. Opt for lightweight, breathable materials that dry quickly, so you stay comfortable throughout the day. Remember to experiment with different cover-up options to find what makes you feel confident and suits the overall aesthetic of your cruise wardrobe.


Footwear Choices

Choosing the right footwear for a boat cruise is important to ensure comfort, practicality, and style. Here are some footwear options to consider:

  • Sandals: Sandals are a staple for a boat cruise. Opt for comfortable and durable sandals that are suitable for both water and land activities. Look for styles with good traction and secure straps to prevent slipping.
  • Flip-flops: Flip-flops are perfect for lounging by the pool or walking on sandy beaches. Choose a pair with a cushioned sole and sturdy straps for added comfort and support.
  • Water shoes: If you plan on participating in water sports or exploring rocky shorelines, investing in a pair of water shoes is a wise choice. Water shoes offer protection, grip, and quick-drying properties, making them ideal for adventurous activities.
  • Espadrilles: Espadrilles are stylish and versatile shoes that can be dressed up or down. Opt for a pair made of breathable materials like canvas or linen for ultimate comfort during warm weather.
  • Boat shoes: Boat shoes are a classic choice for boat cruises. These slip-on or lace-up shoes are comfortable, water-resistant, and provide excellent traction. They are perfect for walking on deck or exploring ports of call.
  • Sneakers or walking shoes: If you plan on participating in more active excursions or walking tours, pack a pair of sneakers or comfortable walking shoes. Look for lightweight, breathable options with good arch support.

When selecting footwear, consider the activities you plan to engage in during the cruise, the terrain you’ll be walking on, and the overall style you want to achieve. Pack a few different pairs to cover various situations and make sure they are broken in and comfortable before your trip.


Accessories to Consider

Completing your boat cruise attire with the right accessories not only enhances your overall look but also adds functionality and convenience. Here are some accessories to consider for a well-rounded and stylish ensemble:

  • Hats: Wide-brimmed hats or bucket hats are essential to protect your face, neck, and shoulders from the sun’s rays. Opt for hats made of breathable materials like straw or cotton for added comfort.
  • Sunglasses: A good pair of sunglasses is a must-have accessory on a boat cruise. Choose sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes from the sun and ensure clear and comfortable vision.
  • Beach bag: A spacious and durable beach bag is essential for carrying your belongings to and from the pool or beach. Look for a bag that is water-resistant, has multiple compartments, and is large enough to hold your essentials like towels, sunscreen, and a water bottle.
  • Waterproof phone case: Protect your phone from water damage by investing in a waterproof phone case. This allows you to capture precious memories and stay connected without worrying about accidental water exposure.
  • Jewelry: Keep your jewelry simple and minimal for a boat cruise. Opt for lightweight and versatile pieces such as stud earrings, delicate necklaces, or bracelets that can be worn with different outfits without weighing you down.
  • Scarf: A lightweight scarf can serve multiple purposes, from adding a touch of style to keeping you warm on cooler evenings or providing sun protection for your neck and shoulders.
  • Portable fan or misting spray: To combat the heat, consider packing a portable fan or misting spray to keep yourself cool and refreshed during the cruise.

These accessories will not only enhance your overall look but also add practicality and comfort to your boat cruise experience. Remember to choose accessories that are suitable for the activities you plan to engage in and reflect your personal style.


Clothing for Different Weather Conditions

When going on a boat cruise, it’s essential to be prepared for different weather conditions that you may encounter during your journey. Here are some clothing options to consider based on varying weather scenarios:

  • Sunny and hot: For sunny and hot weather, pack lightweight and breathable clothing such as shorts, tank tops, sundresses, and lightweight shirts. Opt for fabrics that wick away moisture and provide UV protection to keep you cool and comfortable.
  • Chilly and breezy: In case of cooler and windy weather, layering is key. Pack lightweight sweaters, cardigans, or jackets that can be easily thrown over your outfits. Consider bringing scarves or wraps to keep warm without compromising style.
  • Rainy or drizzly: To prepare for rainy or drizzly weather, pack a lightweight waterproof jacket or raincoat. Additionally, bring a small travel umbrella and consider water-resistant or quick-drying footwear options like rain boots or water shoes.
  • Formal or dressy events: If your boat cruise includes formal or dressy events, pack elegant outfits like cocktail dresses, dressy separates for women, and suits or dress shirts with trousers for men. Be sure to check the dress code guidelines for these events.
  • Casual onshore excursions: For casual onshore excursions, opt for comfortable clothing suitable for sightseeing or exploring. This may include shorts, lightweight pants, t-shirts, and comfortable walking shoes or sneakers.

It’s important to check the weather forecast for your cruise destination before packing to ensure you are prepared for all weather conditions. Packing a few versatile layering items will allow you to adjust your clothing accordingly and stay comfortable throughout your trip.


Dress Code Guidelines

Many boat cruises may have dress code guidelines that apply to certain events or dining options onboard. It’s important to be aware of these guidelines to ensure you pack the appropriate clothing. Here are some common dress code categories you may encounter:

  • Casual: Casual dress codes typically allow for relaxed and comfortable attire. This may include resort wear, sundresses, khakis, polo shirts, or nice jeans. However, it’s important to note that swimwear and flip-flops are usually not allowed in indoor dining areas or certain lounges.
  • Formal: Formal dress codes may require more elegant and dressier attire. For women, this may include cocktail dresses, gowns, or dressy separates. Men are typically expected to wear suits, tuxedos, or dress shirts with trousers.
  • Semi-Formal: Semi-formal dress codes fall between casual and formal. For women, this could mean wearing dressy skirts or pants paired with a blouse or a dressy dress. Men may opt for dress shirts with slacks or dress pants along with a blazer or sport coat.
  • Theme Nights or Parties: Some boat cruises may have themed events or parties where specific attire is encouraged. It could be a Hawaiian Luau, White Party, or 70s Disco Night. Make sure to pack appropriate attire that aligns with the theme to fully enjoy the festivities.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the dress code guidelines provided by your cruise line before your trip. This will help you pack the right clothing and avoid any potential dress code violations that may restrict your participation in certain activities or venues on board.


Packing Tips for a Boat Cruise

Packing for a boat cruise can be a balancing act between having enough outfits for different occasions and keeping your luggage manageable. Here are some packing tips to help you make the most of your available space and ensure a smooth and organized trip:

  • Create a packing list: Before you start packing, make a list of essential items to ensure you don’t forget anything. Include clothing, footwear, toiletries, electronics, travel documents, and any specific items required for your cruise.
  • Check weight and size restrictions: Check the weight and size restrictions imposed by your cruise line to avoid excess baggage fees or issues with storage onboard. Consider packing in a lightweight suitcase or travel bag that is easy to maneuver.
  • Roll, don’t fold: Rolling your clothes instead of folding them can help save space and minimize wrinkles. This technique also makes it easier to see your clothing options when unpacking in your cruise cabin.
  • Bring multi-purpose clothing: Pack clothing items that can serve multiple purposes. For example, a sarong or pareo can be used as a cover-up, a beach towel, or even as a scarf. This helps maximize your wardrobe without adding unnecessary bulk.
  • Utilize packing cubes or compression bags: Packing cubes or compression bags can help keep your clothes organized and maximize space in your luggage. They allow you to separate items by category and compress them to create additional room.
  • Consider laundry options: Check if your cruise ship offers laundry services or self-service laundry facilities. This can help you pack fewer items and ensure you have fresh clothes throughout your trip.
  • Pack a travel-sized first aid kit: It’s always a good idea to have a small first aid kit with essential items like band-aids, pain relievers, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medication you may need.
  • Bring a collapsible duffle bag or tote: A collapsible duffle bag or tote can come in handy for storing souvenirs or for carrying items on excursions or day trips.
  • Don’t forget the essentials: In addition to clothing, make sure to pack essential items such as travel documents, toiletries, sunscreen, adapters for electrical outlets, and any necessary medications. It’s also a good idea to bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the trip.
  • Leave room for mementos: If you anticipate collecting souvenirs or purchasing items during your cruise, leave some extra space in your luggage so you can bring them back home without difficulty.

By following these packing tips, you’ll be able to pack efficiently, stay organized, and have everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable boat cruise.



Preparing for a boat cruise involves considering various factors, such as the activities you’ll be engaging in, the dress code guidelines, and the weather conditions you may encounter. By carefully selecting the right clothing, swimwear, cover-ups, footwear, and accessories, you can ensure that you’re both comfortable and stylish throughout your journey.


Choosing lightweight and breathable fabrics, packing versatile pieces, and layering for changing weather conditions are essential components of a well-thought-out cruise wardrobe. Additionally, being aware of dress code guidelines and packing accordingly will help you navigate any formal or themed events with confidence and ease.


Don’t forget to pack essential accessories like hats, sunglasses, and a practical beach bag. Consider the specific activities you’ll be participating in during the cruise to ensure you have appropriate footwear options, whether it’s sandals, water shoes, or sneakers.


Lastly, following packing tips such as creating a packing list, rolling clothes, and utilizing packing cubes will help you make the most of your available space and keep your belongings organized. Remember to bring travel-sized toiletries and a first aid kit, and leave room for souvenirs or mementos.


By following these guidelines and recommendations, you’ll be well-prepared for your boat cruise adventure, enjoying the beautiful destinations, engaging in activities, and looking your best every step of the way. So, pack your bags, embrace the cruise experience, and enjoy an unforgettable journey on the open seas!